Recently, I've been systematically destroying a sweater I knit last winter.
In knit-speak, such wanton unraveling is known as frogging, because you "rip-it, rip it" (ah, knitting humor) until your faulty project is yarn again. It's a cute name for what can be a painful process-- all that work, hope, inspiration, and time unraveling like it never existed. I first condemned the sweater to frogging back in January and only now, in May, have I executed the sentence. It took me that long to get the nerve.
But about one sleeve and half a torso into the deconstruction, I realized something. The whole process didn't pinch nearly as much as I thought it would. I was actually finding something relaxing, deeply satisfying-- even fun-- at watching my hopelessly mucked-up sweater transformed back into soft gray skeins of woolly potential. I could make anything from the reclaimed yarn, and my next sweater would be even truer to my vision because I knew what didn't work.
Lucky for me, last night was a two-for-one special on epiphanies because I've been struggling with something very similar concerning my writing.
Over the past months, I've been re-examining my long-held writing goals and aspirations in light of my real-world responsibilities. I have a daughter who's almost two and insatiably curious, a house that refuses to keep itself clean of its own accord, and still only twenty-four hours in a day. Fifteen, really, because my intelligence and creativity nosedives after nine p.m. My previous vision of my writing just doesn't fit anymore; like my poor, malformed sweater, it isn't functional for my current needs.
So I'm unraveling it too.
Slowly, with a grimace, I've been taking apart my preconceptions of what writing should mean for me right now. Now probably isn't the time to write my masterpiece of American literature, or try to launch my grandiose writing career. I really don't know if I should even worry about submitting at all at this point. I'm breaking my dreams down to raw material-- a love of words and their
possibilities-- and finding joy just in exploring that richness. Just like with frogging my sweater, I've discovered there is a satisfaction, even a peace, at transforming my writing from a frustrated mess to a ball of potential.
I can write anything from here. I could even write nothing and my words, my story-children, would still be there waiting when I came back.
Here's to coming unspun. In our knitting and in our lives, sometimes it's exactly what we need.